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4 Ways to teach your kids to be more grateful

Kia Morgan Smith is a popular mommy blogger at Cincomom.com where she blogs about her life as a mom of five children and wife.

The holiday season is in full effect. You've got tons of food to cook, many family members to meet up with and lots of planning and shopping to do in order to prepare for what's to come whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. And what's most likely to come is a long list of demands from your kiddies wanting just about everything they've seen in a commercial on your flat-screen.

The problem is that kids often want, want, want and there's no accountability to make them feel appreciative for what they receive. I can remember just last year my son (who is now 6) started throwing his Christmas toys around and stomping his feet because he was already sick of them just an hour after opening his presents. It made me realize that I indeed had a full-fledged brat on my hands and would work toward teaching him the value of being grateful even at his young age. Here are four ways to teach your kids to be grateful.

1. Less is more

Having a bunch of toys for my son to tear up within minutes meant absolutely nothing to him. He didn't do anything to earn them. And even though they were gifts, a little explaining by me about those who are less fortunate would have gone a long way. During the course of the year have your kids give away their unwanted toys to children's shelters. Talk to them about the children who never receive toys and about how many others don't even have a home. Your child will fully understand how blessed they are when they can see the conditions of how the unfortunate lives.

    2. Wants vs. needs

    A good lesson for younger children is to have them create a list of wants vs. needs. Does your child really need 15 to 20 toys for Christmas? As parents we are sometimes compelled to buy them everything we can grab off the toy aisles but we need to scale back and check ourselves before we can check our kids. Have your child create a list of things they really want. Then scale the list down by examining everything with your child and discuss what they really could use (or need) for Christmas and what they can do without. A discussion like this will allow your child to review the "ridiculous" demands of what they want and open up constructive dialogue about it.

    3. Adopt a family

    Maybe it's not in the budget, but think about adopting a family for Christmas. Have your child go out to choose toys or clothes to donate for them. The conversation alone about why you're doing it will leave an indelible impression on your child and have them feeling grateful that their life's circumstances are much different.

    4. Chores for change

    Kids as young as age 6 do a great job carrying out chores. A chore chart helps to keep them on track and is a fun way to help them organize and sort out their responsibilities. And a great reward, besides a sticker, is to give them change since having money means having the ability to buy things and kids love to buy things. After having your child work hard to store up lots of change, have them choose a gift they want to purchase and if they haven't made enough money to buy it, explain to them how they have to continue to earn more money to purchase it. After all the hard work they will be extremely grateful when they finally receive their "prize."

    Photo credit: Jessica Lucia/Flickr
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